“It’s one of those universal things that regardless of what faith you have, or if you have no faith at all, or whatever country you live in, at some point, kind of in the back of your mind you’re like, where do we go?” Millar told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs by phone from his home in Scotland. “It just seemed kind of fun to come up with the answer.”
“Reborn” begins at its protagonist’s end. Bonnie Black is an elderly woman who has lived a complete life. Almost all of her closest loved ones have died and the highlight of her remaining days is receiving a visit from her granddaughter at the nursing home where she stays. She knows she does not have much time to live, but she does not want to accept that she may soon die in a place that is not her home.
When Bonnie takes her last breath, her new adventure begins. She awakens to find herself in a much younger version of her body, wearing a futuristic battle suit, equipped with a cape, helmet and sword, in the middle of an ongoing war between humans and mythical monsters on seemingly another world.
To illustrate his newest adventure, Millar reached out to superstar comic-book artist Greg Capullo, known most recently for his five-year run drawing the Scott Snyder-written “Batman” for DC Comics.
“Greg’s one of those guys, he’s [an artist] at the top of everyone’s wish list. He and Scott have done probably my favorite DC [Comics] run of the last 20 years, probably since ‘Kingdom Come,’” Millar said of the “Batman” run, and he told Capullo that when he had time, he would like to work together. Because I was a fan, I kind of didn’t want ‘Batman’ to end. But the other side of my brain was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be lovely to [work] with Greg Capullo?’”
Capullo easily agreed to a collaboration, knowing Millar’s penchant for creating comic-book worlds that make it to the movie screen (“Wanted,” “Kick-Ass,” “Kick-Ass 2,” “Kingsman: The Secret Service”).
“I never even bothered to ask what the story was about before agreeing to team up,” Capullo joked.
When drawing “Batman,” Capullo had to adhere to approved designs and color schemes, whereas in “Reborn,” he and Millar are the authority on all things visual.
“There’s a great joy in creating your own universe. It’s yours,” Capullo said. “No one can tell you if it’s right or wrong, only if they like it or not. It’s like being a little kid. You know, you’ve got some paper, a crayon and your imagination. You gotta love it.”
Millar says “Reborn” will be an 18-issue story, broken into three six-issue volumes. He’s already sold the rights to “Reborn” to a movie studio, although he says he can’t reveal which one because the studio will probably want to package the announcement with an actress signed on in the lead role of Bonnie Black. “Reborn” will be adapted into a young-adult novel six months after the series concludes, and also into a board game — both a first for Millarworld properties.
With movie producers seemingly always waiting to pounce on his next idea, Millar says he turns down more offers from Hollywood than he accepts, saying he is not “one of those guys who is up for auction.”
For instance, he recalls that as he was selling the rights to his graphic novel “American Jesus” — about a 12-year-old boy who discovers he is Jesus Christ returned — a big-name producer told him that it was one of the best things he had ever read and that he wanted to develop a film. There was just one problem, the producer said: “Can we take Jesus out of it?”
Millar laughed hysterically as he told the story.
“Situations like that … if I was greedy, I could be like, ‘Just get me the check,’” he said. “But I’ve always felt that I want to be able to look on my shelf, and when I see my books and DVDs, I want to be proud of them. I want my IMDb page to be kind of cool.”
Millar says that when many kids during his youth were making Super-8mm movies, he was folding up pieces of paper and drawing comic-book panels on them. He probably could have left comics behind as far back as 2006 and just written movie scripts, because of the connections he has made while having his comics adapted to film, but he says such a path would not be true to himself.
“That’s not me,” Millar said. “My thing is comic books.”